MOUNT PLEASANT — In a winner-take-all matchup to become the Rocky River Conference champion — and claim an automatic playoff berth — both West Stanly and Mount Pleasant entered their annual “Backyard Brawl” rivalry game undefeated Friday night.
West Stanly (3-1, 3-1 RRC) scored the first touchdown of the night but the Tigers (7-0, 4-0 RRC) managed to recover and hold on to a 19-13 home victory over the Colts, who came up short on a decisive fourth-quarter drive.
With six minutes left to play, the Colts took advantage of a short punt by the Tigers and found themselves only 15 yards away from a game-tying touchdown. But Mount Pleasant’s defense responded by with multiple sacks that knocked the Colts out of scoring position.
Despite not being able to complete the comeback, West Stanly’s offense put forth a resilient effort after its defense allowed 19 consecutive points.
“Man, they’ve got grit,” West Stanly coach Brett Morton said. “We don’t quit and we don’t lay down no matter who we’ve got out here. Those guys right there have been through a rebuild and they kept coming back. That’s what you saw tonight. That’s who they are, and I’m proud of all of them.”
Despite finishing with just one loss, the Colts did not earn a spot in the 16-team NCHSAA 2A playoff bracket. Mount Pleasant earned a No. 3 seed and will play West Lincoln on Friday.
Morton was particularly reflective and candid about the progress he’s seen in his senior players, a group who gathered together in a circle after the end of the game.
“This is the first group I’ve had from the time they were freshman to the time they were seniors. This is my fourth year, and these were the guys that were here. I watched them grow up, and that’s some of the best selection of talent to ever come through this school. I’m thankful that they stayed with me — as a coach, that’s all you can ask for.”
The Colts began the game on the right foot as senior running back Logan Little ran a 15-yard sweep for a touchdown only a few minutes into regulation. West Stanly’s defense followed that up with back-to-back interceptions, although neither led to any points on offense.
Mount Pleasant senior quarterback Ryan Tyson started the second quarter with a 55-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Bryce Parker —the first points allowed by the Colts’ defense all year.
With the game tied at halftime, the Tigers came out in the third quarter with two consecutive drives with touchdowns thrown by Tyson, who finished with 16-for-20 passing for 169 yards.
West Stanly was able to make defensive stops for the rest of the night, but its final touchdown with 10 minutes left in the game wasn’t enough to catch up to the Tigers.